Starting a church is a very rewarding experience. It can also be extremely challenging at times. To be successful, you need all the information and support you can get. Before you decide to start a church, make sure your mate is supportive of your decision. If your marriage is not strong, chances are your efforts will not succeed. Starting a church takes time, commitment and a lot of energy. Here are a few important steps that will help you get started.
Know that you are called. If God hasn't called you to start a church, it will be a devastating experience. If you are called, God will give you the strength to make it through the difficult times.
Exercise faith. Starting a church requires a tremendous amount of faith. You are going to be developing something out of nothing. During the trying times, it's often our faith, or belief in God's promises, that keeps us going.
Obtain a spiritual covering. A covering can be a local church that is sending you out or a ministerial fellowship that you have joined. It's very important that you have people who will support you and your family, especially in the beginning stages.
Decide on a name. Pray for God to guide you in selecting a name for your church. Incorporate your ministry focus into the name if possible. Check out the names of other churches in the area to avoid duplication.
Incorporate and obtain 501(C)3 status with your state. Incorporation is not necessary, and there are some who think a church should not incorporate, but most believe the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Appoint board members from outside your church at first. Try to add a few local pastors to your board if possible. Authority is a lot easier to give than to take back, so make sure you can depend on the people whom you appoint.
Prepare your constitution, bylaws and statement of faith. These are very important elements to have before your opening service. People will want to know what you believe. Work with the board to determine your vision for the church. Be prepared to give an answer when people ask what your church stands for.
Find a place to meet. When they first start a church, most groups don't have very much money to spend on a meeting place. Often, young churches meet in a member's home, a hotel conference room, a school or even a funeral home. Be creative and pray about the meeting place God has for your new church.
Prepare for your first service. This is the fun part! When you start a church, you must advertise as much as possible before your first service. Send out a support letter to obtain additional finances to help with advertising costs. Find and organize a core group to help promote the church. Make sure you have saturated the area with the date and time of your first service.
Allow at least 3 to 6 months to advertise before your first service. Introduce yourself to other pastors in the area as well as local authorities, leaders and school board members. Let them know what you are doing, and ask if they would like to be a part of your project. Try to get free spots on your local television station's and radio station's community bulletins to introduce your church to the community.